Thursday, April 30, 2015

Baby Steps…Mini Food Truck Rally

After seeing signs on “The BBD” (As the Bruce B. Downs BLVD is called down here), for a food truck rally we decided that we would attend. papa Smurf has worked quite a few events with American Wiener and he talks about the rush, variety and comradery amongst other truckers. I hadn’t been to an event yet before this one but was eager to attend one. As far as attending more food truck events goes, I want to see “What life like for them. Go where they go” (*inside joke) No but seriously, what better way to understand your client base (a growing portion of it). And I just so happen to be a foodie and food blogger too so it doesn't really feel like homework. It's also a good way to get our feet wet at a smaller event closer in to our community.

Here was the lineup:
The Roaming Gourmand
Lizzie Cakes
Kind Grinds
While we were in line at The Roaming Gourmand, we ended up right in front of the event planner who worked for the Meadow Pointe CDD. Funny how things work out huh? He was thrilled to have reached people who weren’t living in the community.We talked about his landscaping business, how he set up the event, and other events that the community has from time to time. It was really great to gain insight on a number of things/ options we are weighing in heavily on and considering. I gave a plug for GTBFA, if he needs to book more trucks in the future. He was very friendly and sociable. We later ended up at a table with him, his wife and mother in law (at least that’s how the dynamic appeared). They saw me with my Nikon snapping away and asked “Are you a food blogger?” Why yes ;-) They also asked if they could take pictures of my food for their newspaper, sure…why not?

At The Roaming Gourmand I first ordered…Cho Po (Chorizo with potatoes).

I felt like that poor old Lady in that old Wendy’s commercial “Where’s the beef!?” Ok, I know chorizo is not beef but you get the idea as I am referring to the meat portion of the dish. The chorizo was almost non existent. Chorizo is hard to find in the grocery store (I really like the Botto brand which I have been unable to find here). I have been craving chorizo since we left MD, wanting to grill it, and so was very disappointed. The potatoes are perfect, perfectly cooked no complaints there. They would make for some excellent home fries if they ever have a breakfast menu one day. I also loved the crispy onion straws, as this is something that I like to have when I order barbecue burgers. When I think of Chipotle sauce, I think of a robust and spicy sauce and the sweetness of the sauce used here took me by surprise. I don’t usually gravitate to sweet barbecue sauces so could do without the sweetness that I found in this one. But that is just a matter of preference as the sauce is a good one. My advice, drizzle with a Chipotle queso instead of the BBQ sauce and please more chorizo with some chunkiness! Those potatoes need some more sizeable and robust mates on board to compliment them.

Love that wrap!

I decided to give them a second chance and ordered their wrap. They gave Papa Smurf a discount. The sausage was pretty good, but I could have done without the cheddar in the sausage. However, it adds another dimension so I get it. I would’ve loved and my palette was missing provolone. It’s like a pre-cursor ---> onions, peppers, provolone (or some mozzarella). Yes, I’m a "snow bird" (as they call us Northerners down here) and I am sure it is showing through that preference leaning more towards the Italian side. Anyways, the onions were great but the green peppers were over cooked and mushy. My advice, buy your onions and peppers pre-cut if you want to save time, but cooking them too far in advance and reheating is usually the culprit here. Of course you want your onions to caramelize but as far as reheating goes you run the risk of veggies turning to mush. I wondered if the green peppers were canned. I liked the vibrant orange flatbread wrap that was used. Very attractive for plating.

On Lizzie Cakes…Love that White Chocolate Key Lime pie!

So good! Fresh grates of lime gave the fresh and perfect balance of tangy vs sweet. It was a very sweet but the lime tones it down some. It was a very generous slice, so portion is good. The homemade graham / cookie crust with butter was tasty and good compliment to this custard style pie. I only wished it were ice cold but we were combating FL heat so just to have it cold was good considering. They nailed it with this one!

As for Kind Grinds we only tried a watermelon kiwi beverage that they had. Pretty cool see through can. A light and airy beverage. Low in sugar and carbonate. Perfect for the FL heat that day.

I wasn't much in the mood for rice that day and they were mostly serving rice bowls at the time. I'm hoping to see and try something from their truck another time. With that said, I hope to attend more food events in the future. We’re growing here, finding our respective niches and better fits. It takes time but comes with the territory of building a life in a new place and making it home. So far so good.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Things Are Changing…Steak Roll Ups and Blue Cheese Please

It’s decision time. With that said we had to submit notice yesterday and will be staying where we currently live in FL. Papa Smurf switched over his Driver's License to FL a week or so ago and is now an official resident. We also found a really good tailor shop for him in Citrus Park...oh and a stellar brick oven pizza place in Citrus Park too (Grimaldi's). I give it 5* some of the best pizza I've had since we've been here. You can even watch the cook make your pie. Julie and Jerry got a kick out of watching the cook toss the dough.

Things are changing and looking good for this year. But it will be a process as we build and set down roots here.The food truck contract is turning out to be a real bear! Restaurant accounting is a trip with its own caveats, idiosyncrasies, and dramas to hash out. It’s different from other businesses and has other financial matters that have to be recorded and tended to that are non-existent in other industries. Add that these establishments are mobile and it gets that much swirlier. It hasn’t come without some learning curve issues, frustrations, and screaming some very colorful language within the confinement of my little 3 walled office space with a window. You never really know how involved things are until you get in the trenches, start the work, and are already in the thick of it all. But I have always wanted to land a set of restaurant books ever since I started out independently. Once upon a time when I felt getting my CPA license was still well within reach/ grasp I actually wanted a restaurant practice. The last update I received we’re at about 7 trucks on the roster, 2 newbies. I have 2 in process and those 2 are from a total of 4 that are ready for process/ maintenance. My mind has not really caught up with all of this in a sense of being able to muster up any over excitement just yet. 

Some of you may have noticed that my Instagram has slowed down significantly with food posts/pictures shared. I need a new cell as mine is dying a slow death following a drop. It has a mind of its own now, sometimes closing and clicking apps almost incessantly. Once it’s replaced the pictures will resume. 

In the midst of all the “swirly-ness”, having to skim things off and focus what’s already on our plate in front of us. A lot of meat and potatoes! Speaking of which, here is a little something I whipped up this past week!

I made steak roll ups. I like blue cheese but despise the pre-made salad dressing blue cheese. Call me a “food snob” *shrugs. I highly prefer the fresh blue cheese crumbles and to make my own dressing or dipping sauce for wings with the crumbles, sour cream or Greek Yogurt and mayo. I was having a serious craving for blue cheese (no clue why), the night before I made this dish we made burgers. I wanted a bacon and blue burger but “no haps on that”. So the craving was not satisfied. Papa Smurf and I were in a serious chicken coma, I mean chickened out, so no wings…out of the question.  I decided to make Steak and Asparagus Roll Ups with Blue Cheese (Crumbles) after seeing chicken wrapped with cheddar and asparagus by Archer Farms in the grocery. 


8 Small Round Chuck Steaks (Any small and thin round will do)
1 Stick of Butter (Healthy Op EVOO
1-2 Tspns of Red Cooking Wine (or Red Wine Vinegar)
Small Container Blue Cheese Crumbles
Asparagus (Woody portion trimmed off) 2-3 per roll/ steak
Steak Seasoning (Salt and Pepper Based) ---I like to use McCormick’s Montreal Steak
You can use a combination of Kosher Salt, Fresh Cracked Black Pepper, ad EVOO
***Easy on the salt as Blue Cheese has a saltiness itself.
Ziplock Bag / Meat Tenderizer Mallet (I improvised with my wooden rolling pin).


This one is pretty straight forward. You want to put your steaks in a Ziplock and pound them thinner so that they are easier to roll. Be careful not to get holes in the meat or split the steaks. Next season with Salt and Pepper or Steak Seasoning on both sides. Allow steaks to get to room temperature and so that the seasoning can set in. After, place a tablespoon of blue cheese in the middle of the steak and top with a small square sliver of butter, arrange trimmed asparagus lengthwise. Then roll your steaks. If the steaks are a good amount of thinness they should hold in place without a toothpick. Place under a broiler at 500 degrees until the steak reaches your desired temperature. I like mine medium rare to medium well 155 - 165 degrees internal temp.


Sunday, April 19, 2015

The 'Day Job' And Food Collide...!

We have alot going on! Often times when a person states that they "have alot going on" people assume one of two things either you're doing it big or it's not good. We're good and it's good stuff.

For those who follow me on Facebook (personal side) know that I recently landed a multi-client subcontract. No sooner than I wanted to share my ideas about the whole turning this blog into a springboard, this project comes along and the crazy thing is how it ties into the larger scope of things. It's turning out to be a little more involved than I initially thought. I haven't really had time to blog or make anything post worthy until earlier this week. So that post is coming but I have held it off while I get my bearings especially in lieu of this new project.

So what are we doing? What's the scoop behind the operation? The head behind Foodie Finances is also the Treasurer of Gulf to Bay Food Truck Association. She's also co-owner with her husband for American Wiener. Foodie Finances helps food trucks get their permits, licenses, sales tax and use set up, also aids with getting up to health code, and mentors rookie food truckers for best practices in daily operations management. Though we share the same degree (BS in Accounting), Bookkeeping is not her stronger suit but rather the food truck set up consulting, daily operations and financial management. So, that's where I came in as a Bookkeeping and Accounting consultant when she decided to sub out; I also provide consultations to her on best practices in the field, the best tools and software to use, industry standards, trends and news.

I have been contracting myself out independently the last 3 years as a Bookkeeping Consultant under my own business Taylor Tax and Bookkeeping.When it comes to bookkeeping contracts I don't discriminate against industries because I don't want to limit myself. I'm willing to work with anyone and learn their processes. Then, over time improve their systems based on fine tuning their needs. Accounting is a fundamental language for business, built on principles and rules for the tracking and analysis of financial records. So, once you have it down, you can adjust to whatever industry you end up in. I have served quite a variety of industries already in just a few years CPA firm, hair salon, graphic designers, publishing companies, government contractors, information systems and technology, home improvement contractors and now food trucks. I like it, I get to use my educational background, no sales, no cold calling, no door to door, no commission, no ladder or pyramid, and get to set my own hours.

This latest project came along at a time where I was considering throwing in the towel; and possibly moving on. I even admitted that at our last meeting. The 'day job' as I have dubbed it, is tedious, and can be very time consuming if you don't know what you're doing. It's really like sitting down and working a jigsaw puzzle. I was getting frustrated. Of course, I enjoy the work, I've always loved puzzles since childhood. I'm very good at what I do. Finding work is relatively easy. However, finding people who won't take advantage of you, who won't treat your skills and talent like an "All You Can Eat Buffet", and who understand they don't come cheap or wholesale is a whole other story! And that last bit was the thorn and source of frustration (at times).

Anyways, moving forward, I was beyond excited because I am a serious foodie of course. There was also the plus that I would not have to be glued to an office, but serve the clients remotely. Thank God for technology and resources like Right Networks. The food truck industry is gaining momentum in popularity, creativity, and culinary prowess. The industry is changing, the bar has been raised as chefs are trading jobs in brick and mortars for mobile kitchens.

Okay so this is a food blog right!? Here's what I made this past week...

I think I perfected barbecue ribs around or at least close to the same year that I perfected my "Man Trap". I remember after making them for the 1st time without a #Fail my mother asked me "Do you think you would be able to do it again?" and from there I knew I had a #Winner. Just a couple of years back an old close friend asked for the rib recipe after having them at my daughter's birthday BBQ. And when I listed my "Master Blend" she was taken aback "Oh gosh! I didn't know it was that involved!". So today, I have slimmed it down and present to you "The Basic Rib Rub"

The Basic Rib Rub 

2 1/2 Tblspns Onion Powder
2 1/2 Tblspns Garlic Powder
1 1/2 - 2 Tspns of Cumin
2 Tspns of Kosher Salt
1 Tblspn of Smoked Paprika
1 Tblspn of Chili Powder
2 Tspns of Black Pepper (If you have a a pepper grinder fresh cracked black works best!)
1/2 Tblspn of Cinnamon

The Wet Finish (No Gutter Brains Please)

2 Tblspns of Soy sauce (one on each side)
1/4 Cup of Oil (Vegetable or Canola will do)
1/4 Cup of Apple Cider Vinegar

You want to mix all of the ingredients to the rib rub together first (in a bowl or ziplock). Next, make sure to work the rub in really good (use gloves), make sure there aren't any clumps. Treat it like lotion! And be sure to get both sides. You will probably have some leftover that you can keep in a cool dry place. Before baking or marinating overnight, add 1 tablespoon of Soy Sauce to each side. Followed by a 1/4 cup of oil (spread evenly over both sides) and the same with the cider vinegar.

If you are baking like I had chosen to do so this time, let your ribs get a good sear for 15-20 mins at 450 degrees. Then bake at 350-375 degrees for the remaining cook time. I usually bake ribs in the oven for at least 50 minutes. The foiling method works great to keep your ribs from drying out after they get a good sear (covering with foil). However, when baking I will usually just pour 1 1/2 inch of water in the bottom of the baking tray to keep my ribs moist (without foil).

The finished product...

Nice tender, juicy and flavorful ribs!